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The Chronicle of Higher Education “Ticker” Blog: In Open Letter, 41 U. of Illinois Leaders Demand Steven Salaita’s Rehiring

Posted by uscsjp on August 26, 2015

In Open Letter, 41 U. of Illinois Leaders Demand Steven Salaita’s Rehiring

[Updated (8/24/2015, 7:11 p.m.) with news of the provost’s resignation.]

Forty-one campus leaders at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have signed an open letter calling on the institution to hire Steven G. Salaita, whose appointment to a professorship was nixed last year over the scholar’s anti-Israel tweets.

The message comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the campus. Earlier this month, a federal court ruled that the university had broken its contractual obligations with Mr. Salaita by declining to hire him. Then the campus’s chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, suddenly announced she would step down. Later in the week, it came to light that Ms. Wise and other officials had used personal email accounts to communicate secretly about the Salaita case and other topics, in violation of state open-records law.

On Monday, the university announced another casualty of the email revelations: Ilesanmi Adesida, provost of the Urbana-Champaign campus, is stepping down effective August 31 and returning to his faculty position as a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department. “I recognize that current controversies are causing distraction to the administration and the student body,” Mr. Adesida said in his resignation letter to the campus’s acting chancellor, Barbara J. Wilson, “and I do not want to contribute to those distractions.”

In the letter regarding Mr. Salaita, the authors — who are mostly department chairs and directors of academic programs — write that it “has increasingly become clear” that the decision not to hire the scholar “violated the principles of shared faculty governance and may also be legally liable,” adding that it tarnished the college’s reputation.

The authors of the letter request a meeting with the system president, Timothy L. Killeen, and Acting Chancellor Wilson.

A spokesman for the university did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday morning.

–Andy Thomason, August 24, 2015


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